Good day to you all, fellow Gooners. I hope this column finds you all well, and enjoying your 2014 so far. Sadly, whilst the latest Arsenal result (more on that later) had been extremely gratifying, this year has been costly so far…
Firstly, my daughter has joined a nursery, who will entertain the little gremlin whilst myself and my wife work our knuckles to the bone in the public sector (well, my wife does at least), for one day a week. For this service, we’re looking at paying £199 per month, thank you very much.
Secondly, my darling wife bought me, for Christmas, another set of ‘James Bond’ audio books; CDs with Ian Fleming’s works of genius read unabridged by a series of British thespians; my idea of auditory heaven. Now, as you will have ascertained, I am married, with a young daughter. Solace and solitude are hard to come by. Short of sitting in my Impreza for hours on end, and not setting foot into the comfortable warmth of my house, it has proven very hard for me to listen to these CDs during the evening after work, especially when little ‘un is safely tucked up in bed. Let sleeping babies sleep, gang. You know how it is, the wife wants to watch her soaps…you, er, don’t…it’s cold and wet outside so you don’t really want to go out into the sticks to find civilisation and you’re shattered as well. So, what to do? I did what any sane man would do…yes, I bought a portable CD player, last seen in Dixons sometime around 2001. I went for a retro, amazingly still new in box, Bose-made model. From L.A. Again, not cheap. But, if it delivers Kenneth Branagh’s dulcet tones, describing James Bond’s latest alcohol fuelled killing orgy straight down into my ear canal, and helps me zone-out of the current NHS turmoil’s of ‘Holby City’, it is money very well spent.
Thirdly, I read the following from David Moyes, after the league winning side from last season, which he inherited in the summer (and added to with a £27m midfielder let us not forget), lost yet again in the New Year, this time to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup:
“We’re having to play them (Officials) as well as the opposition at the moment. It’s really terrible, it really is. We’re actually beginning to laugh at them, that’s the thing.”
Which broke, nay, destroyed my extremely expensive, (Jose Mourinho endorsed) irony meter into several sardonic pieces. Imagine that, games involving Manchester United with some dodgy officiating eh? But, what’s this?! Decisions going AGAINST the Red Devils…why, what witchcraft is this? What perversion of accepted rules could this be? Well, David, I’d call that nasty little sensation ‘karma’ and by my reckoning, Manchester United have got about 27 years’ worth heading their way. Good. But, now, I must buy a new irony meter. In my line of work, you need a good one. Not cheap.
What of The Arsenal then? Well, a comprehensive, easier-than-this-author-thought-it-would-be victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup was the highlight of last Saturday’s events (which included the wife and my parents taking out the table and chairs that I didn’t want in the first place from the lounge and replacing them with a new, smaller set which we had in the first place) with Serge Gnabry, Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny all hugely impressing. Indeed, the young German, who has allegedly caught hipster’s favourite Jurgen Klopp’s eye, was a sensation and is many fan’s choice to replace the sadly stricken Theo Walcott as the right-sided-attacker of a fluid front line. With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also due to return, the impact of Walcott’s loss to a serious knee injury – in midfield at least – will hopefully be lessoned. What was gratifying to see on Saturday was the togetherness of the squad, and how everyone helped each other out on the pitch. Tottenham were chasing shadows at times and when they did have the ball, they rarely threatened.
Upfront, however, Arsenal still gives onlookers the impression of desperately clutching at straws. I think Mesut Ozil really needs that selfish striker who will devour his delicious through-balls and passes. Olivier Giroud should be fit for Arsenal’s next fixture, but Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo must surely be considered unavailable, or at best, short of fitness. Quite why signing an accomplished striker is so hard for Arsenal is beyond me: in Europe, Jose Salomon Rondon, Andriy Yarmolenko and Luis Muriel all appear to be eminently purchasable from their smaller (than Arsenal) and financially unstable club sides and I don’t think any of the aforementioned player’s salary demands would dent the club’s wage bill when compared to the pay packets that recently departed player such as Andrei Arshavin or Andre Santos were enjoying during their tenures Arsenal. In England, young up and comers such as Danny Ings (whom is Dave’s frontman of choice, and a player who seems like a bloody nice bloke too – see picture) and Jordan Rhodes are proven goal-scorers for their current teams and I think are players who would jump at the chance to sign for a team like Arsenal, especially when they could get the opportunity to perform in the UEFA Champions League, in which they would both be eligible to appear in. Would either of those two cost more than £10m?! Would they not be worth buying to add into the squad and use alongside Giroud, Sanogo, Walcott, Podolski and maybe a big name in the summer?
So I sincerely hope that in my next column, I can celebrate the arrival of a new signing, or two. I truly believe that Arsenal does need to add to this impressive squad to maintain the great momentum and progress that this squad has accomplished. Otherwise, the numerous resources available at Manchester City and Chelsea could grind out results when Arsenal falter and overtake the pacesetters. We look to welcome back two bright young stars in Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from injury, just as we hear that Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott may not play again this season (or at all for this season, in the case of Diaby).
Thanks for reading,